“Put it down, Walter. That’s not yours.”

If it isn’t mine, who does it belong to? Walter wondered. He glanced down at the sock beside him on the arm of the chair, he wiggled his bare right foot at the care attendant. She repeated herself. “Put it down, Walter. That’s not yours.”

Did she mean his foot, or the sock? Or both? What about the matching sock already on his left foot? Was he wearing another man’s sock? But it was so comfy and warm, more like a slipper than just a sock. How could it not be his?

“And take off that other sock, Walter. It’s not yours either.” There was gentle insistence behind the woman’s smile.

“But it fits,” he said.

“All socks fit everyone,” she replied. “Those socks belong to Leo. You shouldn’t be on his side of the room, and you shouldn’t mess with Leo’s stuff.”

Leo? Leo? Who the blazes was Leo? Leo the lion came to Walter’s mind, but since when did lions wear socks? Walter stood. Frozen. Uncertain. What to do? Should he take off the offending sock that apparently was not his? He would rather put on the sock that lay on the chair—so comfy and soft and inviting—the sock, not the chair. The chair was a lumpy, butt-numbing affair.

Walter glanced at the attendant for guidance. She looked like she could stand there all day, with both hands on her hips and feigned disinterest on her face. But her toe tapped impatiently and the mixed signals confused Walter, especially in light of the fact that there might be a lion in the room. He decided to wait her out. If he remembered correctly, lions—ones named Leo, or otherwise—reacted to movement. As long as Walter sat absolutely still, the lion would not notice him. Absolutely still. His cane was within reach and the door to the room was ajar. Walter knew he could make it if he stayed perfectly still and waited for his chance to escape. He stared at the woman, daring her to move, thereby attracting the beast’s attention.

“Oh good grief, not again,” said the attendant. She called to a woman walking by in the hallway. “Imelda, come help me with Walter. It looks like he’s frozen up again.”

Walter closed his eyes and waited for the lion to pounce.

Hermine Robinson lives in Alberta, Canada where winters are long and inspiration is plentiful. She loves all things "short fiction" and refuses to be the place where characters and their stories come to die. Her work has appeared in numerous print and on-line publications including Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Vignette Review, FreeFall Magazine and others. https://wordflights.wordpress.com